A well run blog should be at the heart of most search engine optimization (SEO) content strategies (see part 1). and a blog can place a big checkmark next to each of those items. Not to mention all the extra pages that are now available to be indexed for the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). This in turn will help with increased organic visibility and website traffic. It also gives your otherwise static website a more human factor by using post authors, and providing a place for customer interaction directly on your website in the comments.
Writing your first blog post.
How do I know what to write about?
Strive to contain posts to a single topic. Research has shown that posts that covers a single topic in-depth significantly outperforms posts that do not. Having a post go off topic, or introducing too many ideas can potentially have negative results.
Post topics can be derived from many areas, and at first many will most likely become apparent. Invest in a goodSEO keyword analysis to learn what can drive more traffic to your site (and what is driving traffic to your competitors). A good source of potential posts are your long-tail keywords. Do some research using your initial keywords on sites like Übersuggest to find search terms that targets a more niche, but well qualified search audience.
How long should it be?
There is no magic number for a blog post length, however we recommend 800-1500 words. Any less, and search engines may not see the content as in depth enough for you to be considered an authoritative source on the topic. Unnecessarily long posts can run the risk of becoming too broad, or being seen as tool for keyword stuffing (which can draw an SEO penalty).
A recent study of one million websites in Google’s top search results, the largest of its kind ever conducted, showed that an average first page search result contained 1890 words. This doesn’t mean your posts need to be that long to rank high, but it does emphasise that fact that Google prefers longer, more in-depth writing. Of course the content also has to be well written and structured properly to get on the first page.
A word about keywords.
Although specific keywords in your post content is important, it is not the same as it was a few years ago. Often you will still hear the advice that your target or focus keyword needs to appear in your post's browser title (also referred to as the title tag), main heading (your post title), URL, and in the content a minimum of 4-5 times. This is no longer the case, and can even be considered keyword stuffing in certain cases. Writing contextual content around your target keyword/phrase is more important than using it multiple times within the content. Do make sure it appears in the first or second paragraph however.
Include your focus keyword in your posts title as early as possible (especially if it’s a long title). Your post's title is extremely important for SEO, and for most Content Management Systems (CMS) this will automatically used in three different areas:
- Your post’s main heading. This is what the user reads at the top the post, so your title needs to relate to, and flow well with the article.
- The browser title tag. Aside from appearing in the bar at the top of users browsers, this serves an much more important function. It’s the first thing search engine crawlers look at and use to determine what the page is about. It’s also what they show in the search results, so it’s the first impression searchers have of you page. You want them to click on the link, so take the opportunity to fine tune or re-word your title. Most CMS's have this ability, and it's under 'SEO Settings' in the SiteCM post editor. Move the focus keyword to near the beginning if it’s not already, and make sure your title is between 35 and 70 characters. Any longer and search engines may cut it off or selectively edit it.
- Your post’s URL. The last part of the URL to be exact. This is the 'filename' in SiteCM, other CMS's may refer to it as the alias or permalink. Keep this focused and short as possible without losing the titles topic. Take out unnecessary words like ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘and’, etc., remove unnecessary verbs, make sure there is no punctuation or special characters (these are normally stripped out by default), and all words are separated by dashes and not underscores. Having one category in your posts URL is okay, but avoid using more than that.
A trick that many content marketers use to create SEO friendly titles is to phrase it as a question. Again, use long-tail keywords to target niche, high-converting users. This also opens the opportunity to be featured in Google’s “Answer Box”.
Always include images.
Images should also be used whenever possible with. It has been shown that posts with at least one image significantly outperforms posts without any. Any additional images do not appear to much influence over search rankings, however image rich content tend to keep visitors on your page longer, so there are some indirect SEO benefits for this. Always use appropriate images that relate to the context of the content to aid interest and readability. Image file names, descriptions, title text and alt text are great place for the blog posts keywords, however the alt text is the most important for SEO. Including text in these areas show attention to page detail, and it helps the images get listed in image search.
An example of an image with tags. In this post the topic would be aimed towards mountain bikers on the benefits eating SPAM®.
File Name: can-spam-energy-mountain-biking.jpg
Alt. text: When searching for a can of SPAM to eat before your mountain bike ride, look for this can on grocery store shelves.
Title Text: This gold and blue can of greatness is the perfect fuel for those long distances rides.
Description: When searching the grocery store for energy food for your next mountain bike ride, look for this can on the shelves. The can of SPAM is distinctive with its gold and blue can with yellow lettering.
Link it up!
Blog posts should be well referenced with multiple links to other related pages and posts within your site, and outside resources when appropriate. Linking to your own pages and posts help avoid yourpost from going astray, and being bogged down in long explanations that have been covered elsewhere in more detail. It also allows to searchers who lands on the post through an off topic (but relevant) search to quickly find what they’re looking for without having to navigate the site or return to the search engine.
Although the goals is always to keep the user on your site, external links can (and should) be used when necessary. For anything involving research and studies, always link to the referenced sources. This help build authority, as it shows that your posts are well researched. Just make sure you’re not rehashing the study info, and are relating it specifically to your posts topic. External linking also a way to get noticed by sites without actually reaching out to them. This could result in extra promotion (social media mentions), and links back to your post or site.
Structure your content for readability.
All posts and pages on a website should have a Heading 1 (H1) tag with the post title as the first bit of content text, and this should be the only H1 in the post. Your SiteCM blog template, along with most other CMS's will automatically add the post title as a H1 at the top. The rest of the headings should be Heading 2 (H2) or Heading 3 (H3). Modern search engines are okay with more than one H1 if it makes sense, but it’s still best practice to avoid it. H4-H6 are ignored by search engines (they will be treated like any other paragraph content). Use headings liberally, as search engines use them first to determine the content structure and importance. Whenever possible break content into bullet point or numbered lists. These are easier to read than long paragraphs, and because of this can be liked by search engines when looked at from a readability point of view. The following is an example of a layout that’s easy for both search engines and users to read and follow.
Blog Title - Heading 1 (H1)
Introduction paragraph text. This is a good place to include a summary of what the post contains. This is the first bit of text that search engine index, and they will often include a snippet of this instead of the meta description in the SERP.
- A numbered list
- is a good way
- to outline everything
- covered below
First sub-heading text. This would be point #1 from your intro paragraph
Further sub-heading (H3)
A sub-topic of point #1.
Further sub-heading (H3)
- Bullet-point list
- to breakup
- and emphasise
- this sub-heading’s points
Further expansion (point #2 with H3 sub-headings as needed).
Wrap up paragraph for the post.
Interactivity and community building with comments.
Blog comments are a great source of interactivity on what can otherwise be a static website. The key here is timely responses to questions and inquires. And a thriving comment section shows community involvement, and this is a direct (small) direct ranking factor. It also shows there are humans on the other end your site, and lends that personal touch that could lead to further leads, sales, etc. SiteCM has the ability to to turn comments off for individual posts that may be too sensitive to warrant commenting. And if someone is not available to reply to questions or concerns, and remove spam in a timely manner, then you may consider turning comments off globally.
Now Publish Your Post!
Remember this is just a guide to get you started. There is no magic formula for writing your posts, other than write your audience. As search engine algorithms become more and more advanced and reads your posts like a human, the technical details will be come less important. Structure your posts in a way that makes the most sense for the content and it's reader. Make it insightful, and offer something that's not readily available everywhere else (yes, we understand the irony of that). When it is something that is readily available, cater it towards your customers. After all they're more likely to click on a source that they already trust.
Want to add a Blog to your SiteCM site? Need to learn more about web marketing?